The government is officially back in business….for now. Also, for now, the debt ceiling crisis has been avoided and Obamacare hasn’t been touched. Thousands of federal workers who have been furloughed 16 days return to work today, for now.
Everything came together Wednesday on a frenzied night of deadline deals. Lawmakers toiled through the night, coming precariously close to hitting the midnight debt ceiling deadline.
The Senate brokered a bill to end the 16-day-long shutdown and raise the debt limit. The GOP-led House passed it. And early Thursday morning, President Barack Obama signed it into law.
But it wasn’t Republicans who made it happen; a majority of that party’s caucus actually voted against the measure. The bill passed 285-144, with overwhelming Democratic support and the approval of about 80 House Republicans.
Had Congress not approved a debt limit increase, the government would have started running out of money to pay its bills. Social Security checks and veterans’ benefits could have stopped. The markets could have gone into a tailspin.
And now that Congress has approved a temporary spending plan, the government can re-emerge from its partial shutdown. More than 800,000 furloughed employees can start coming back to work. More than 1 million others who’ve been working without pay will see paychecks again.
The country will now be funded through January 15, the nation can avoid default through February 7 and furloughed federal workers will get backpay for the 16 days missed.
The bill that passed Wednesday night doesn’t address many of the contentious and complicated issues that continue to divide Democrats and Republicans, such as changes to entitlement programs to tax reform.